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Camintel to join mobile scramble

A ninth telecoms operator would enter the Cambod-ian market next year, officials said yesterday, surprising insiders who claimed the sector was already overcrowded.

Camintel, a joint Cambodian state- and Korean-owned company, would offer mobile services in 2012, CEO Kang Nam-kook said yesterday at a telecommunications conference in Phnom Penh.

“Although we are a fixed-line player now, ultimately our plan is to be in mobile,” he said, adding the service was linked to what would be a two-pronged business strategy combining fixed-line and mobile services.

“Our goal is to be the number-one telecoms operator in Cambodia.”

The mobile service would be available in about a year, Kang Nam-kook said on the sidelines of the conference.

Camintel’s data services – particularly attractive to smartphone users – should differentiate it from the eight other providers in the country, he claimed.

Camintel would most likely be the final operator to enter the market, Sea Nar-eth, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications’ director of radio frequency management and licensing, said yesterday.

The ministry, however, would not stop entrants as long as there was frequency available, Sea Nareth said, adding that the entry of another operator was good for competition.

“We cannot stop players  coming into the market because this is a free market,” Sea Nareth said.

“But Camintel is the last player, as far as I can see.”

Sea Nareth said Camintel was awarded its mobile lic-ence just five months ago.

As overall industry revenues contracted for Cambodia’s eight current mobile operators, government regulation should be enhanced to limit uncompetitive service providers, OSK Bank analyst Jeffery Tan said.

“There needs to be an overhaul of the regulat-ory structure advocating transparency in the award of spectrums [and] lic-ences, and a formal legal structure established to govern the industry properly,” Tan said via email from Kuala Lumpur.

Consolidation, as industry watchers have long noted about Cambodia’s market, would be essential to the future of the market, he added.

Camintel’s announcement came as a surprise to the Kingdom’s other telecoms operators, as insiders largely agree that the sector is overcrowded.

“Most independent observers say [the market] can support three to four operators. This is the ninth,” Hello chief executive officer Simon Perkins said yesterday.

“I can’t imagine [their] business being successful.”

Kang Nam-kook said Camintel’s fixed-line and mobile convergence plan would target banks, hotels and office buildings, but Perkins said the low number of fixed lines in the country would limit the plan’s profitability.

Korean-owned KTC Cable Co bought a 49 per cent stake in Camintel in 2008, according to Camintel’s website. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications owns 51 per cent, the website says.

Camintel, along with Telecom Cambodia, was one of the Kingdom’s biggest fixed-line operators, Kang Nam-kook said at yesterday’s conference.

The company also operates as an internet service provider and sells internet protocol phones.

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